Leisure Businesses need Plan of Attack for ‘Martyn’s Law’

A new responsibility – the Protect Duty- will fall on the shoulders of UK leisure and hospitality businesses later this year, as they join other ‘public space’ operators expected to “protect the public” from terrorism and “prepare staff to respond appropriately”, should an attack occur.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel on behalf of the Government said it is “committed to bringing forward legislation this year”, to introduce ‘Martyn’s Law’, in memory of Manchester Arena bomb attack victim, Martyn Hett. His mother, and other campaigners have lobbied for enhanced venue terrorism security measures, to help prevent such tragic losses of life again.

A public consultation on suggestions in 2021 has led to proposals that will place the onus on places, spaces and venues to actively take a lead on terrorism prevention. Currently, there is no legislative requirement for such security measures in the majority of public places.

The legislation is likely to apply to any business, or community or faith venue, which can accommodate more than 100 people. Some experts warn of GDPR-sized impacts. There will need to be widespread counter-terrorism training for staff and probable investment in additional security measures.

Commentators anticipate the starting point will be a terrorism risk assessment, conducted similarly to a health and safety risk assessment. The former, however, is likely to need to be more fluid, looking at variables such as the type of event staged and the artist, or other triggers that could spark an attack.

Insurers are already preparing to assist brokers with training and advice, so their clients can gain best guidance. Allowing a trained broker to steer you through a terrorism risk assessment, could be invaluable assistance, ahead of the Protect Duty’s arrival. Considering terrorism insurance is another step to take.

The Protect Duty consultation process found only 50% of respondents currently carry out terrorism risk assessments.8 Only 55% currently access Government counter- terrorism advice. This is despite fears about increased radicalisation of extremists via the Web during lockdowns.

The current terrorist threat level is ‘substantial (18 March 2022)’, so attacks could recommence during post-pandemic ‘normality’. Regardless of the Protect Duty’s detail, businesses should consider an attack’s likely impacts on their premises and footfall. An attack need not directly affect them, as a whole area can quickly lose its attraction to customers, if terrorism occurs anywhere within it. Cordons and restrictions of movement could also prevent physical access and an attack’s aftermath could lead to financial loss through looting and pillaging.

Standard property and business interruption policies do not typically cover terrorism as standard, so it could be in a business’s interest to consider terrorism insurance. Many such policies include terrorism advice provided by counter- terrorism officers, ex-military personnel and terrorism consultants. That could be of tangible benefit as businesses draw up their plans to suit the Protect Duty’s final requirements, so talk to your broker today and be sure to be well-prepared for Martyn’s Law, however you proceed.

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